Telling Tales

7am: my alarm forces me out of bed on a dark winter's morning. Across the globe, the summer sun is setting on Paris and Barbara Campbell is about to deliver episode 31 of "1001 Nights Cast," a durational webcast performance inspired by Sheherezade's legendary survival strategy. Each day, Campbell selects words from Middle East news reports, renders them in water colour and posts the resulting image online as a writing prompt to visitors. She then selects and adapts one or several of these stories for that evening's performance script. Previous episodes are archived on the site and reflect diverse origins, themes and characters. The performance I witnessed stemmed from "focus of all lenses." The story interweaves a Western schoolboy's teenage dilemmas with a glimpse of homoeroticism amid the turmoil of another bombing: human tenderness against a backdrop of violence. These are real people we're talking about. The webcam shows a close-up of Campbell's mouth as she calmly reads the story. A human mouth from which issues forth a story. I am drawn into another life, other experiences. 970 to go, and then, still, all the stories will not have been told. - Helen Varley Jamieson.